This week saw two NFL head coaches, John Fox of the Denver Broncos, and Houston Texans‘ Gary Kubiak, fall ill in the span of 3 days. While Kubiak was released from the hospital after suffering a reported minor stroke, Fox had to undergo surgery to work on his heart valve. Both look to be recovering well and on their way to a full recovery, which is always a good, positive sign.
But this has to bring up the question……….do NFL coaches overwork themselves unnecessarily? If you ask any coach in any sport, if they are honest, the answer is most likely a resounding yes.
The coaching profession in American professional and college sports is one of the most scrutinized positions in any organization in any working environment due to the full realm of responsibilities asked of the coach.
In college coaching, a coach (particularly basketball and football) has to not only work on the x’s and o’s with their coordinators that work underneath them, but monitor what their players are doing on a regular basis. Are they going to class? Are they following team rules on a regular basis? Is everything in the program in compliance with the NCAA? Etc, Etc.
When a coach is at a high level institution such as Michigan, Alabama, USC, Oregon, Texas and others, the pressure to win and be the face of the university is extremely high. Even though the offensive and defensive coordinators are the ones who draw up plays and put together the bulk of the gameplans, the head coach has to be able to implement their philosophy into the system for the opponent for the upcoming game.
And then aside from the actual coaching and player mentoring, college coaches have to go out and recruit around the country to keep the program going strong. A college coach has a distinct job to go to high schools (or have assistants speak on their behalfs) and make sure they are bringing in the best players in the United States to make sure that program stays strong for as long as possible in order to keep boosters happy, get new facilities and justify having the largest financial contracts at the university.
All of that can make someone lose their mind, quickly. And that’s only college, folks.
In the professional leagues such as the NFL and NBA, there is a bit more structure there, however, the main pressure is to simply win. Winning is what its all about in the league, and no matter if you have to trade someone, cut a player, suspend them or not, the fans will always be there as long as the team is winning and if the star players are happy.
In the professional leagues, the coaches don’t have as much power and stroke as they have in college athletics because the players are making millions of dollars and the teams have made the players the face of the franchise, and the old rule holds that no matter what, a coach is easier to replace than a player.
So, where exactly does a coach have a chance to relax and take it easy and have some time for themselves? This is where its time for the NBA, NFL, MLB, NCAA, and NHL to step in and mandate the time that a coach is able to work per day and week, and the coaches should be required to faciliate more of the duties of a team to the assistants and coordinators.
In most large companies in America, the CEO is not the one doing all of the grunt work on a regular basis, they are the facilitators of the whole operation. Coaching is similar to being the CEO of an organization. Coaches work their entire lives to get to this point where they can run a team or be the face of a university, and at this rate, there may be a time where you have coaches collapsing far more if the organizations they work for, as well as the leagues, don’t step in and save them from themselves.
If I were the leagues, I would mandate that coaches on non-gamedays are allowed to work no more than 6 hours per day and anything that goes beyond that point, the coaches and organizations are subject to fines, suspensions or a loss of draft picks/scholarships.
The coaching profession is too demanding to not have a better hold on what is taking places with these people who do have families and other life demands that many put aside just so they can work and provide. Its not worth losing their health or life over and if we are putting so much onus on protecting the athletes, lets make sure we protect the coaches who we expect to have enough energy to make them the best they can be.
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